Understanding the signs, symptoms, and possible effects of benzodiazepine addiction can be an important first step on the path toward successful long-term recovery. Sierra by the Sea in Newport Beach, California, is proud to be a source of accurate and relevant information about the impact of benzodiazepine addiction.
Learn about benzodiazepine addiction
Benzodiazepines, which are commonly referred to as benzos, are medications that are frequently prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia. Doctors also prescribe benzos to minimize symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, reduce seizures, and relax muscles.
Benzos work by suppressing the central nervous system, which helps the user feel more focused, calm, and relaxed. They can also allow a person to experience deeper sleep. Many people who abuse benzos do so because of the euphoric feeling it can help them experience.
Some commonly prescribed benzos include Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Valium. When used as directed, benzos can be very beneficial. When misused, they can produce a number of dangerous side effects, including addiction.
Once you become addicted to benzos, it can be difficult to control the symptoms on your own. Due to the chronic nature of addictions, they generally don’t go away without clinical intervention. The right type and level of professional care, however, can help you treat any addiction and allow you to experience successful long-term recovery.
Statistics about benzodiazepine use and addiction
The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) report the following statistics about benzodiazepine use and addiction in the United States:
- More than 30% of overdoses involving opioids also involved benzodiazepines as of March 2018.
- As of 2015, benzodiazepine use was nearly twice as prevalent among women as among men.
- Over a 12-year period from 2001 to 2013, the percentage of continuously insured patients receiving opioid prescriptions who were also prescribed benzos rose from 9% to 17%.
- In 2015, 23% of people who died from opioid overdose also tested positive for benzos.
- The prevalence of benzodiazepine use is highest among adults ages 65-80 (8.7%).
Potential causes of benzodiazepine addiction
Your risk for developing an addiction to benzos can be influenced by a variety of factors, including the following:
- Family history of substance use or addiction
- Having a mental health disorder
- Being prescribed benzos at an early age
- Being impulsive
- Antisocial behavior
- Being female
Associating with people who abuse alcohol or drugs
Symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction
When used as directed, benzos can help you feel more confident, less anxious, and less stressed. But abusing benzos can lead to a variety of unsettling experiences. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms that may indicate that a person is struggling with an addiction to benzos:
- Social isolation
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Losing interest in hobbies or other social activities
- Trying to steal benzos that have been prescribed to another person
- Visiting multiple doctors in hopes of illicitly acquiring benzo prescriptions
- Poor coordination or imbalance
- Rapid, involuntary eye movement
- Memory problems
- Trouble paying attention
The negative impact of benzodiazepine addiction
Abusing benzos can have a serious negative impact on a person’s life. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to benzos, it’s critical to seek help as soon as possible. Common effects of benzodiazepine addiction include:
- Respiratory depression
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Strained or ruined personal relationships
- Poor performance at work or in school
- Overall decline in physical health
- Onset or worsening of mental health concerns
- Legal problems
- Financial strain
- Other forms of substance use
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts and ideation
- Anxiety and depression
These effects are not inevitable. By seeking effective professional care for an addiction to benzos, you can reduce the risk of experiencing the damaging impacts listed above. Getting help for benzodiazepine addiction can allow you or your loved one to start healing from any past pain and prevent any further negative outcomes.
Common co-occurring disorders among people who are addicted to benzodiazepines
Those who struggle with an addiction to benzos may have an increased risk for developing the following co-occurring mental health disorders:
- Anxiety disorders
- Depressive disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Other substance use disorders
Withdrawing from benzodiazepines and the risk of overdose
Effects of withdrawal: If you become addicted to benzos, your body adapts to the presence of the substance. By attempting to end your use of benzos, your body could respond with a number of distressing symptoms, known as withdrawal. The following are some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal from benzos:
- Brief hallucinations
- Hand tremors
- Increased pulse rate
Effects of overdose: Overdosing on benzos can have fatal consequences. If someone you know has been using benzos and shows any of the following effects, it’s critical that you seek immediate medical attention:
- Muscle weakness
- Blurred vision
- Loss of coordination
- Extreme dizziness
- Slow, weak breaths
Don’t wait if you see anyone experiencing signs of an overdose. Make sure that you help them get medical attention as soon as possible.